An adviser guide to setting goals in 2021

Last month I met with our executive leadership team to review 2020 and plan for 2021. After reflecting on what we all agreed was a challenging year, some powerful realizations rose to the surface. One of those epiphanies was the fact that we had a list of 66 notable accomplishments the company had achieved over the past 12 months. Some were planned and strategically targeted throughout the year; others came in response to unforeseen circumstances, like the pandemic.

The exercise reminded me of a truth I uncovered years ago: We drastically overestimate what we can conquer in the short term but ultimately underestimate what we can accomplish in the long term. If we set goals that have a 50-50 probability of completion, we know we’re stretching ourselves and maximizing our discretionary effort. We also know that we’ll get to the end of the year achieving far more than we could’ve imagined just one short year earlier. We know we shoot for the moon, and sometimes we make it, but even if we don’t, we’re still floating above the atmosphere and that’s an accomplishment too.

Use this first month of the year to set clear and compelling goals for you and the team. It’s the most dynamic thing you can do to influence this year’s growth for your business.

Step 1: Identify your “someday goals.” A good goal is like good wine. It gets better with age. These are the dreamer goals that are fun to think about and achieve in the long term. Stretch your imagination. Give yourself something to aspire to, something that inspires your team. Something that will carry you even on the most defeating days.

Step 2: Define one-year goals. Work your way backwards and define what might be possible this year. It’s healthy to dump a lot of your ideas onto paper and refine as you go. Meet with your team. Assign champions for certain focus areas and gain buy-in.

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Step 3: When discussing goals, answer the question, “Am I committed or just interested?” Every day, we are capable of so much more than we accomplish. We wake up and compete with our own potential and more often than not, we come up short. Reflect on what you really want to commit to what your team can commit to and weed out surface-level interests. You’ll save the firm weeks, maybe months, of time by not chasing something that sounds worthwhile but that no one intends to get behind. 

Throughout this process, be sure not to let fear prevent you from taking a leap. Goal failure should never be seen as a bad thing, but as a more intelligent way to start over. Rid yourself of those limiting beliefs and embrace the unknown. Surround yourself with positive people who are additive to your life.

Step 4: Make your goals visible. Our brain is our most powerful tool, equipped with unlimited computing power. This is especially true when it comes to our unconscious mind’s ability to process and retain bits of information. Make those bits of information those goals highly visible to you and your team every day. Keeping them front and center, clear and measurable gives your subconscious mind a chance to work on them, even when you aren’t consciously doing so.

Opportunities show up for the well-prepared. Remember that when you’re setting goals for 2021. The end result, if done right, will be that you increase your confidence, conviction and enthusiasm in how you tackle every day. You want to get to the end of your life and say, “I’m glad I did,” not “I wish I had.”

Avoid the trap of overcommitting.

Focus on what’s most important and simplify.

If last year taught me anything, it was to find the gift in every bit of adversity I faced, especially when chasing my life-altering goals. If you can find that mindset, with aggressively audacious goals at your side, I promise you this year will produce more than you ever thought was possible. And what better attitude could there be when starting the New Year.

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Ron Carson is CEO and founder of Carson Group, which serves advisers and investors through its businesses: Carson Group Coaching, Carson Group Partners and Carson Wealth. Follow him @RCHusker.

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